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Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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Max Boxing – Main Lead


Dwight Muhammad Qawi, formerly Dwight Braxton, (41-11-1, 25 KO’s), was a 2-weight class world champion who held the WBC light heavyweight title from 1981 to 1983, and the WBA cruiserweight title from 1985 to 1986, in an outstanding 20-year career that culminated with him being inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2004.

Life for the stocky, tenacious banger certainly had its peaks and valleys at times. It was the mean streets of Camden, New Jersey, where the Baltimore born (then Dwight Braxton) Qawi was raised. And, it was the lure of those streets that landed him in Jersey’s Rahway State Prison where he did hard time for armed robbery.

However, it was also in Rahway where he enrolled in the boxing program that put him on a path that would indeed change his life. The program included incarcerated light heavyweight contender James Scott. Qawi took to the sport and upon his release in 1978, at age 25, with no formal amateur experience, turned pro.

Dwight did not have a lot of physical advantages for a man fighting in the higher weights standing at just under 5 ‘6 ”tall. But, he made up for it in a Joe Frazier-like, turtle shell defense that saw him get low, making him hard to hit, and allowing him to spring up, launching thunderous hooks to the head and body. Qawi, often with a smile on his face, bore in looking to land the heavy stuff right from the get-go.

Qawi would go a pedestrian 1-1-1 in his first year as a pro. However – It should be noted that his draw was in his debut and the loss was to undefeated Johnny Davis who would go on to fight for a world title. Qawi would then bang off 14 straight wins over the next 3 years leading up to his word title shot against legend Matthew Saad Muhammad. (It was during this time that he officially changed his name to Muhammad Qawi after his conversion to Islam).

In the title eliminator, before the Saad Muhammad bout, Qawi returned to Rahway State Prison to face former fellow inmate James Scott, who was still serving time, with the winner being offered a shot at the title. Fight fans may have gotten to see a world title fight from within the walls of a federal penitentiary had Scott won, but Qawi won a unanimous decision. Beating Scott, who owned wins over Yaqui Lopez and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, among others, was no easy task. But, the win earned Qawi a world title shot.

On December 19, 1981, just 6 years after being released from prison, Qawi stopped legend Saad Muhammad to win the WBC world light heavyweight title. From convict to contender to world champion. It would be easy to say that anything Qawi accomplished after this would be gravy, considering where he started, but “The Buzzsaw” had some more world title fights in him yet.

Qawi would make 3 defenses of the title in 1983, beating Jerry Martin, Saad Muhammad in a rematch, and Eddie Davis, before losing the title to undefeated, future light heavyweight legend Michael Spinks in March of 1983. He would then pick up 4 wins over the next year and a half to earn a title shot against South African WBA cruiserweight champion Piet Crous. Qwai would stop Crous in the 11th round to add his 2nd world title to his trophy case.

He would then make a title defense against faded former heavyweight champion Leon Spinks before losing it to undefeated, rising star Evander Holyfield, in Holyfield’s hometown of Atlanta, Georgia in July of 1986.

While Qawi continued on after the Holyfield loss, including getting another world title shot against Holyfield, who had now added the IBF cruiserweight title to his collection,

Dwight would jump between cruiserweight and heavyweight over the next decade going 12-8 in facing champions like Lee Roy Murphy, Ossie Ocassio, George Foreman, and Robert Daniels. Qawi would retire after his last fight in November of 1998 at age 46.

Qawi, walked out of a federal penitentiary to embark on a career that would see him face 4 world title challengers, face 9 world champions, engage in 9 world title fights, win 2 world titles in 2 weight classes, and see himself earn a spot in the Hall of Fame. Dwight Muhammad Qawi did not just win at boxing, he won at life!

In retirement, Qawi, who will turn 70 his January, has continued to live and work in his home state of New Jersey. Champ – thanks for the memories on an outstanding career!



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